Muddy pitch scuppers League Cup matches

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 February, 2004, 12:00am

Three weeks of winter monsoon finally caught up with the Sunray Cave League Cup, forcing the postponement of yesterday's Group A matches and earning Happy Valley an extra day's rest before flying out to Singapore today.

The league leaders and Group A leaders were due to play Nancheng in a game that would have decided at least one of the two semi-finalists from their section. However, despite the Hong Kong Football Association's determination to stage the matches, the mud-wrestling arena formerly known as Mongkok Stadium was deemed unplayable.

It left Happy Valley with a handy break ahead of Wednesday's AFC Cup match against Home United, not that they were particularly grateful.

'It helps us but not much,' said Valley's manager Lim Fong Kee . 'We were already prepared to play. In fact the FA insisted we should play because they have so few slots in which to rearrange the matches. But the goalmouths are so bad that when the referee arrived he said the pitch wasn't fit for any match.'

The unexpected interlude at least gives Valley's key player, Cameroonian Ambassa Guy, more time to recover from a groin injury suffered while setting up the only goal of their victory over South China at the start of the month.

However, it leaves the FA with a major headache in rescheduling the games, because the Hong Kong national team start their World Cup qualifying campaign in Malaysia next week and Valley are due to play another AFC Cup game at home to Malaysian side Perak the week after.

A decision is likely to be made later today. The FA's director of competitions Lam Shing-kui said the best option was to switch yesterday's games to February 22, the day the semi-finals were due to be played, with the semi-finals being switched to the following Thursday or Friday, uncomfortably close to the final on the following Sunday, February 29.